Hope Against Hope

3:46 pm faith, God, God's Word

Speaking of Abraham, Paul wrote, “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall they seed be” (Rom. 4:18).  Paul gives us the essential elements of hope.
First, God’s word is essential to hope.  In Abraham’s situation the word of God came in the form of a promise. The promise was repeated to Abraham on various occasions.  However, a complete statement of it is given in Gen. 22:17-18, “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.  And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”  Paul references this prophecy and applies it specifically to Jesus Christ as the fulfillment (Gal. 3:16).  This promise was not fulfilled in Ishmael.  It was fulfilled through Isaac (the son of promise).
Second, God’s power is essential to hope.  Abraham and Sarah were old.  Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born and Sarah was 90.  In addition to their old age, Sarah was barren.  Paul mentions both obstacles in Rom. 4:19.  The seed promise could not be fulfilled without God’s power.  “Is anything too hard for the LORD? (Gen. 18:14).  God has the power to accomplish His purposes!  God’s power is also a grounds for hope.
Third, man’s faith is essential to hope.  Abraham’s faith was not weak.  Yea, it was strong!  Abraham is known as the “father of the faithful” (Rom. 4:12; Gal. 5:26-29).
Abraham did not reject God’s promise in the face of his own impotence and Sarah’s barrenness.  He believed God.  He believed the promise that God made to him.  As a result, he hoped against hope.  His faith in God’s promise and power gave him hope in the face of his and his wife’s physical “deadness” (Rom. 4:19).  He was fully persuaded that God could perform what He had promised (Rom. 4:21).  Abraham’s faith in God’s ability to perform His promise was tested when God commanded him to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice (Gen. 22).  Abraham believed that if he took the life of his son, that God could raise him to life again and so continue with His promise and its fulfillment (Heb. 11:19).
Hope is confident expectation of good things to come.  This confidence is based upon God’s Word and God’s power to accomplish His purposes.  Faith in God’s promises working by God’s power gives hope.  Abraham’s hope was realized when Isaac was born.  Isaac’s birth strengthened Abraham’s faith even more.
Without faith in God’s promises and power we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6).  Without faith in God’s promises and power we cannot have hope.  Unbelief is a bandit that robs of hope.  Faith and hope are inseparable and both are based upon God–His faithfulness to His word and His power to accomplish His purposes.

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